Ireland is a hot bed for gamers and home to some of the biggest gaming publishers in the world. Electronic Arts (EA) have a studio in Galway, while Riot Games and Activision/Blizzard both have studios in Dublin.
The consumer market in Ireland has always been strong, but the competitive side of gaming has been slower to develop here. The United States, South Korea, China, Sweden and Denmark all lead the way. However, Ireland has been making strides to change that in recent years.
Ireland is a growing market. The last few years, the country has gone from a grassroots scene to now having teams like Munster Rugby Gaming (MRG) and Nativz based in Dublin who both compete in League of Legends.
Epic Global Agency helps esport players get their foot in the door as well as create commercial strategies for teams.
Having infrastructure in place which fosters talent is crucial, and that is one of the main areas where Ireland is falling behind. There are around two million gamers in Ireland across all spectrums, and it is estimated there are around 700,000 esports enthusiasts. Another issue is the lack of media coverage of esports in general compared to other sports.
The UK have the likes of The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) who are a gaming body, and Digital Schoolhouse which is a pathway into the sport. Esports is closely linked to STEM learning in the UK, so people are exposed to it at a very young age. Gaming can often be a tool to help people learn skills such as teamwork and communication.
While rugby and soccer have academy systems to nurture young talent, esports is no different and while individuals can succeed on their own, having those systems in place will help Irish esports in the long run.
Ireland does have a vibrant university esports scene which is organised and supported by the Irish Collegiate Esports; the official representative body for esports competition for all third level students in Ireland. They have colleges and universities around Ireland and organise leagues and championships across multiple titles. The Irish Collegiate are also battling against their European counterparts.